Man denied entry into baseball game after trying to bring ‘therapy gator’ inside

70-year old man had 5-foot alligator on a leash

Stock image. Petr Ganaj (Pexels)

This understandably made a lot of people do a double-take.

In Philadelphia on Wednesday night, a man was denied entry into a Phillies game after trying to bring what he said was a service animal into the game.

The only thing was that this wasn’t your typical service animal.

Instead of a dog, the man tried to bring in an alligator that he said has been his emotional support animal.

Joie Henney, a 70-year old man, had the 5-foot alligator on a leash as he tried to walk into the stadium.

According to the official Phillies’ website, all animals are prohibited other than certified service dogs or service dogs in training for guests with special needs.

Photos and videos showing Henney outside the stadium with the alligator went viral on Wednesday night.

Named WallyGator, the alligator has his own Instagram account and reportedly sleeps in the same bed as Henney, according to the Washington Post.

In the article, Henney said as a hobby he has helped relocate unwanted alligators, snakes and iguanas to wildlife sanctuaries for about 30 years.

In 2015, Henney agreed to take in three juvenile alligators from a friend in the Orlando area after they were found in a pond.

Alligators are legal to own in Pennsylvania, so Henney had them brought to him in Florida. He later sent two of the alligators to reptile refugees in New Jersey and New York after they grew bigger, but kept WallyGator after forming a bond with it.

Henney wasn’t oblivious to the dangers of having an alligator as a pet in the home, but he said in the article that WallyGator “didn’t try to bite him when he held him or fed him chicken legs and dead rats,” and that he started to roam freely around the house without incident.

“‘He enjoyed being held, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a super nice, friendly alligator,’ " Henney said.

After several members of Henney’s family died in 2017, Henney said WallyGator became a good friend to lean on for healing.

“I was depressed and WallyGator started to do silly things to cheer me up,” Henney said. “When I was on the couch, he’d pull my blanket to the floor.”

Henney then applied with the U.S. Service Animals website to have the alligator as a service animal, and his application was approved.

He received a harness and leash for the alligator, which has to be certified every year as a service animal.

It might be an unusual arrangement to many, but having an alligator for a service animal has worked out for Henney.

He just now knows he can’t take WallyGator out to the old ballgame, so to speak.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.